Tuesday, July 4, 2006
Carmel on the Case: Shutter Woes
Since last hurricane season, there have been countless stories of contractors leaving repairs undone. But in tonight's Carmel On The Case, we finally caught up with the owner of one company who left customers unhappy and the attorney general unconvinced.
WSVN--Last year's hurricane season left so much damage -- many of us are still trying to put our homes back together.
At the Lopatin house in Parkland, the panel shutters failed and a window blew in.
Robin Lopatin: "The scariest thing I've ever been through. There was a hurricane in our house basically."
With baby Dylan to look out for, Robin Lopatin says she and her husband decided to invest in accordion shutters.
They put down a deposit for more than seven thousand dollars with Florida New Code Hurricane Shutters.
That was last October.
Carmel Cafiero: "What do you have for your money?"
Robin Lopatin: "Nothing. Nothing and that's what prompted me to go like insane over this."
And her family is not alone.
Shana Clark: "Nothing - nothing - nothing - nothing."
Shana Clark says she and her husband put down more than six thousand dollars with Florida New Code Hurricane Shutters.
She took these pictures when the company started to install shutters.
But Shana says the shutters didn't fit correctly, so she stopped the installation.
Shana Clark: "I wish I had done more research."
Carmel Cafiero: "Mr. Leibowitz? Carmel Cafiero, Channel 7."
Brian Leibowitz: "Oh how are you?"
Sixty-six-year old Brian Leibowitz owns Florida New Code Hurricane Shutters.
Carmel Cafiero: "You have a lot of unhappy customers."
Brian Leibowitz: "I have some unhappy customers - absolutely."
Carmel Cafiero: "What's going on?"
Brian Leibowitz: "Very hard to get materials. Very hard to get the customers, the factories, to make the shutters for the customers. They're so overwhelmed."
But the state puts the blame on him.
Charlie Crist: "Well, we've gotten about 40 complaints to date."
Attorney General Charlie Crist has filed a lawsuit against Leibowitz and his company.
It charges customers were mislead and that deposits were kept even when shutters were not delivered.
Charlie Crist: "It's not buying a lamp. You're talking about something for the health safety and welfare of a Floridian."
Leibowitz however says the state is making a mistake.
Brian Leibowitz: "That's absolutely wrong. I haven't misrepresented."
Carmel Cafiero: "The Clark's went to court on their case and got this judgment against Brian Leibowitz for twenty three thousand dollars. He didn't fight the claim. That was back in April. So far they haven't seen a dime."
"Shana Clark: "I knew that I was sinking money in knowing that I would probably never get a dime out of him. But I was so mad I him that I wanted to make his life miserable and let him know he couldn't get away with this."
Meanwhile, Robin Lopatin says Leibowitz repeatedly promised but failed to deliver a refund.
Robin Lopatin: "We're not gonna be protected. I mean, I have a child. How can you do this to me?"
Brian Leibowitz: "I told her today that she'll have her money back on Saturday and I am returning her cash deposit because she deserves it back."
And after our interview - Leibowitz did return the deposit.
Robin Lopatin says it was short three hundred dollars - but she's glad to have most of her money back.
Brian Leibowitz: "I'm working it out with everybody that I can to get their jobs done or return their deposit."
Now he'll have to convince the courts.
If found guilty of misleading his customers, Leibowitz could be fined ten thousand dollars for every count of wrongdoing.
If You Have A Story For Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE